Living with another person is never easy, but it may be a necessity when you simply can't afford a house or apartment on your own. A roommate will have a big impact on your everyday life. You're sharing the same space, after all, so you're going to be around each other a lot.

No one wants to dread the idea of going home. You can avoid a lot of headaches by carefully selecting a roommate, knowing how to avoid problems and conflicts and knowing how to deal with problems if they pop up.

Where to Look for Roommates

You might find your roommate in a number of different ways, including:

Choosing Your Roommates

Finding a roommate you get along with will lessen the stress involved in sharing your living space and household expenses with another person. It's important to talk to potential roommates and ask a lot of questions. Carefully observe the person during your interview. Behaviors you notice during the interview can give you insight into the person's character.

Some things to look for:

  • On time for interview
  • Compatible personality
  • Neat appearance
  • Polite behavior

Don't be afraid to ask questions about things important to you, including:

  • Are you employed and for how long?
  • What's your schedule?
  • How's you health?
  • Will you be having lots of friends over?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • Do you have references (former roommates or landlords)?
  • Will you sign a roommate agreement?

Roommate Agreement

Often, roommate disputes start with poor communication or a mismatch of expectations. Most of these disputes can be avoided by laying out simple guidelines and expectations at the beginning of the living arrangement in a roommate agreement.

It can outline rent and other payment responsibilities, a system of chores, how much notice is to be given before moving out and any other issues you want to include. It should include:

  • Date of agreement
  • Names of roommates
  • Address of property
  • Signatures of all roommates

Other items your agreement might include are limited only by your imagination, but you may want to consider including:

  • Portion of rent and utilities to be paid by each roommate and due date
  • Total amount of security deposit paid and portion of that deposit paid by each roommate
  • Agreement that each roommate will pay for any damages that they or their guests cause
  • Agreement that each roommate will continue to pay his or her share of the rent for a certain period of time if he or she needs to move out before the end of the lease period unless the landlord allows a replacement roommate
  • Who will find, interview and decide on any new roommates
  • Agreement that each roommate will pay a specific share of the cost of any repairs, improvements or other costs due under the terms of the lease
  • Any house rules regarding pets
  • Whether smoking is allowed and where
  • Rules about drinking and drug use
  • Rules about late hours and noise
  • Whether there will be overnight guests and how often
  • Whether grocery shopping and cooking duties will be shared
  • Cleaning responsibilities and schedules
  • Whether food items in the kitchen are to be shared
  • Whether personal items including dishes, utensils, kitchen appliances and toiletries are to be shared

Remember, the roommate agreement is an agreement among the roommates. It's not binding on the landlord. The lease is the agreement between tenants who signed the lease and the landlord.

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Tagged as: Real Estate, Landlord and Tenant Law, roommate rights, roommate responsibilities